Posted in Blog, General

I’m 23.

Let me start by saying this is not to boast or brag. This is for me, for me to not feel too bad about where I am in life. I’m 23, just 23.

By the age I am now, I have done the following:

  • Graduated from college
  • Published 16 essays
  • Published 15 poems (well, 14, but one is scheduled for December)
  • Had a poetry chapbook accepted for publication (even thought the press closed, I’m considering it a win)
  • Became Assistant Editor for Sundress Publications
  • Got accepted into graduate school (even though I couldn’t attend)
  • Finished 2 fiction books (though I was 14 and 16 at the time and I would never, EVER publish them without heavy editing or at all, still a win, right?)
  • Became a mentor/big sister to several people
  • Started my own business

And I’m sure that I’ve left some stuff off of the list, but all of this is to say that I have to be kinder to myself. I have done a lot for being so young, and I don’t give myself the credit I deserve. I don’t allow myself to relish in the small things; I keep working and writing until “something better” comes. This is not healthy, and it’s not my time yet for things. It’s okay to not have it together all the time. Wanting something to happen before it wants to happen can be toxic, so I’m dropping the attitude of I have to accomplish X by Y age. (Well for the most part. Babies and marriage I definitely want by 30 so I can have a healthy pregnancy, but that’s besides the point.)

I’m 23. I can’t go back in time and change things, but I can be more positive for the future. I have my life ahead of me to make a difference. I woke up this morning. I need to relish in that.

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Posted in Blog, General

October Update and Why I’ve Been So Low-Key

Hi everyone, and welcome (back) to my blog! I have a lot going on right now, so it’s time to spill. Get ready for all of this, the good and the bad.

I always preferred bad news first, so here goes.

In April or May, I hinted about crossing i’s and dotting t’s. I had submitted a poetry chapbook manuscript to a press in April and on that same day, I had it accepted for publication. I jumped at the chance, and I had never been prouder of myself or my work until that point. In May, that press gave me the month of September as a tentative publication date with the promise of working with another editor on the team to spruce of my manuscript, saying they would send a contract soon. Well, that never happened.

I hadn’t heard from the press since then, so I queried mid-August, like any other author would do. I was then told that the press would fall into a delayed publication schedule. I was fine with that, and I was still very eager about this book. In September however, my heart broke and some of my dreams shattered. The press was shutting its doors.

For months, I worried over this chapbook. I worried over potential covers. I worried about tone. I worried about offending upsetting white people. I then worried that I didn’t care about offending white people because I knew I hadn’t written anything wrong. I re-wrote history from a black perspective without rose-colored glasses.

This book was my baby. My first baby found a home on a whim, and I when I say a whim, I mean I compiled the poems, sent it out, and it got accepted on the very first day, within hours. I know, that was pure luck. I don’t think I will get that again. Don’t get me wrong; the poems are strong and decent and a few of them have gotten picked up for individual publications, but the news that I wasn’t going to have a book out this year was a definite blow and shock to my system.

My baby would not be hitting the shelves (or the internet) this year. It took me a week and a slight revision of the manuscript before sending it out again. I’m not sure if I want to keep submitting it. I’m not sure if this book is for me anymore. I’m not sure if it’s good enough. I spent hours on each poem when I originally wrote them. I got angry writing them. I still get angry reading them.

And now I’m angry that I’m back to square one: researching and writing and revising.

I keep telling myself that if it really wasn’t good enough, it wouldn’t have gotten picked up by anyone. Then I felt like a fraud. Then I realized that this happens all the time to people. I’m no special snowflake, though I’d like to believe that my circumstances were pretty special.

Also, for everything I’ve submitted to since, I’m getting rejection letter after rejection letter including a few fellowships I really wanted, which is also not helping my mood.

That’s enough bad, right? Time for the good since you’ve last heard from me.

I’ve picked up an Assistant Editor position with Sundress Publications, something I did not think would happen, but God works in mysterious ways. I was sought after for the position; I did not actively seek it.

Also, although the press from my chapbook is shutting its doors, its journal is remaining open, and they are publishing my second favorite piece from that collection in December, and the editor is super sweet.

One more positive thing is I’ve been leading a few therapeutic writing workshops here in Baltimore for Melony Hill’s Writing for My Sanity workshops. My first one was in August, but she has asked me to return in November and December for three of those workshops, so I’m excited about that. It has been an amazing experience.

I think that’s all of my good news, but if I think of anything else, I’ll let y’all know. I’m really just trying to stay upbeat and happy, or at least I’m just trying to keep moving forward. It’s hard at times, but I can do it!

Take care everybody!

Posted in Blog, General, In progress

On that 31 in 31…

August is over, and September is here. Time for a new school year and more learning and growing opportunities. I am excited for the simple fact of being able to be in spaces where I can learn from different teachers and kids. Each day I am in a building, I am absolutely humbled. Our kids are our future, and being an educator I still have the opportunity to learn with them and from them. I may not be a full-time teacher – yet! – but I enjoy everything that comes with the beginning of school.

But you aren’t reading this to hear me rant about kids and my excitement for the upcoming school year; you want to know how I did. I will list my goals for August one last time, then share my progress on them.

Goals:

  • Write at least 25 new poems/scenes
  • Apply for Fear No Lit’s Submerging Writer Fellowship
  • Successfully finish my second summer of teaching creative writing to little ones
  • Fleshed out some more scenes in FYMBF

End Results:

  • I wrote 31 new poems and 1 continuation of a scene
  • I applied for Fear No Lit’s Fellowship
  • I completed my teaching summer with a perfect observation score and and almost perfect (47/48 if I’m remembering numbers correctly) score
  • I only fleshed out one scene of FYMBF, but that scene is strong and emotionally charged, leading into even more scenes, so I’ll take what I can get. (Plus 31 poems in 31 days – that’s a feat in itself! I’m not sure how/why I thought I could do both)

All in all, I didn’t do too bad. I have new material and new vision, new expectations, for my memoir. At first, I didn’t think I could accomplish this goal. Last year, I believe I ended up with 26 pieces. That’s not bad, but it wasn’t where I wanted it to be. In my personal 30 in 30 in April, I ended up with 28 out of 30. Again, not bad, but it was closer.

This year, completing 31 poems, I feel incredibly accomplished and blessed. I am realizing I have talent and drive. I am realizing that emotions can start to take a backseat, and I can become more objective in my work. I also realize that inspiration doesn’t always come find you; you have to go out there and seek it.

Posted in Blog, General, In progress

Over halfway there!

It is day 17 out of 31.  I have completed (first drafts anyways) of 16 pieces so far this month, 15 of which are all brand new poems! The one other piece is a continuation of my memoir, For You My Best Friend.

This kind of effort excites me. It makes me believe I can do anything I put effort into, and honestly, it’s not as hard as it sounded. Maybe it’s because I’ve done this a couple of times before, so I know I can do it, but still, I am ecstatic. I am well on my goal to at least 25 new pieces of writing.

In case you’ve forgotten, I had the following four main goals in my control:

  • Write at least 25 new poems/scenes
  • Applied to Fear NO Lit’s Submerging Writer Fellowship
  • Finished my second summer of successfully teaching creative writing classes to little ones
  • Fleshed out some more scenes in FYMBF

I am proud to report the following:

  • I have 16 poems/scenes so far, which means only 9 (9!!!!) left out of 25. I might push myself and do 30, but we’ll see!
  • I applied to the Submerging Writer Fellowship (July 31)
  • I successfully completed my summer with a perfect observation of teaching and an almost perfect overall feedback score. I had amazing scholars, and it was great to get them out of their shells, writing and reading their pieces to audiences proudly. (8/11)
  • I’ve done a little fleshing out, but hey, it’s not the end of August yet, so I still have some time 🙂

Keeping positive and staying around positive people really helps my productivity.

Wonder what’s next for me? Wanna make sure I follow through with my goals? Make sure you follow me!

Posted in Blog, General

I like to torture myself

Hey everybody,

So remember that writing challenge I did in April? That 30 poems in 30 days thing? Well guess who’s doing it again in August? Me! I’m going to try to write 31 poems in 31 days as part of Zoetic Press’ Write Like You’re Alive Challenge. This is year number 2 for me with this challenge of theirs, and I am super excited. Maybe this can switch my rejections to acceptances and my lack of motivation to overdrive.

I also am planning of submitting an application to the Submerging Writer fellowship. Can’t hurt anything can it? The deadline for that is… relatively soon, but I have most pieces put together, so I can make it!

By August 31st, I will have:

  • Written at least 25 new poems/scenes
  • Applied to Fear No Lit’s Submerging Writer Fellowship
  • Finished my second summer of successfully teaching creative writing classes to little ones
  • Fleshed out some more scenes in FYMBF
  • Edited my chapbook (though it’s not in my hands anymore, so I’m hoping August for that too)

Sounds like a lot, but I think I can do it. Wish me luck (and send prompts) y’all!

Posted in Blog, General

Crickets

I know you haven’t heard from me since the 30/30 I did in April (which clearly took more energy than I thought) and my acceptance into graduate school, but there is really nothing much to report. I have unfortunately decided to not take my place at UB, or at least not until I can afford it. It’s a great school, with a great program, but I can’t do that to myself right now.

The other things I highlighted on in April, including crossing a few t’s and dotting a few i’s? Well you’ll still have to wait on that too because I still haven’t crossed my t’s or dotted my i’s. Save a few dollars for me though around the fall 😉

I’m trying to write, but I just can’t for some reason. I try, but nothing comes… Or nothing good comes. I think it’s because a piece I wrote in January or so still isn’t getting picked up and I feel like everything else I write is worthless, even though it isn’t. I hope this lull of not writing and not sending out work for publication and not getting published ends soon. I can’t very well teach little people how to write unless I do it myself, right?

Posted in Blog, General

So…. about that 30/30

Told you guys I would update you on the 30/30 poem a day challenge I did for National Poetry Month, so here goes:

Drumroll please!

…………..

Okay, so I didn’t make it (sad face), but I came close! I wrote 28 out of 30, which is better than the last time I decided to write 30 poems in 30 days (last summer). That time I got around 25 or 26, so any progress is good progress! Next time, I’m gonna rock it out of the park! I’m thinking about posting a couple of pieces not sure yet.

Also, I have a week to decide if UB is the place for my MFA. I’ve gotten accepted, the program director seems to love me, it’s in town, and I already know a couple students. Decisions, decisions….